Harvest Time and 200K Brevets

Growing up in rural Iowa, the harvest was always an intense and busy time. Tractors constantly moved through the fields, and it was not unusual to catch sight of the lights of a tractor shining over the dirt clouds raised up by someone working into darkness. Kids missed school to help their families. Crops had to come out before the cold winter days arrived.

Ye Olde Barn Shot

Hard at work on a Saturday

Living in D.C. now, I’m pretty removed from that life. Instead of cornfields in the backyard, someone else’s backyard is my backyard and I have to ride about 40 miles in any given direction for a glimpse of the country.

Gavin and Bill in the early miles
Gavin and Bill in the early miles

This weekend, the beauty and busyness of the harvest came back to me during Felkerino’s and my ride with the Pennsylvania Randonneurs on the Silver Spring 200K. This brevet spends many miles in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish country.

Tobacco drying in the barn on the PA 200K

Amish country is an amazing place to ride. People use a horse and buggy for transportation. Kids ride kickbikes to get places. Lawns are cut with a manual push mower. Horses are instrumental in working the farm.

Riding by the tall corn

The corn has grown tall in Lancaster County and people work vigorously to prepare for colder months. There are the normal weekend chores of mowing and feeding livestock, but the crops grown over the past three months are primed to come out. Tobacco is being harvested and dried.

Tobacco drying in the barn on the PA 200K

I had never seen tobacco harvested before. I confess it is a beautiful sight to see all those leaves lined up and hung from barn ceilings as the symmetrical wood slats flare out to help the drying process. And the subtly sweet smell wafting from the leaves signals that fall is arriving soon.

I longed to get off the bike and linger in various spots along the way, soaking in the earthy odor and the season, but I knew we would never finish our ride if I started doing that.

CJ and Clair ride by the tall corn
CJ and Clair ride by the tall corn

Felkerino wrote a summary of our day including a link to our route. As you will see from his story, we enjoyed an ideal day in the companionship of our fellow riders, and traversed a spectacular route.

Lancaster County on the PA 200K

Thanks to the Pennsylvania Randonneurs Silver Spring 200K, I had a front seat to the harvest for a few glorious hours this past Saturday. I savored every moment.


    • Yes, +1 on the great photos you (and Ed) took. It’s great to have such a wonderful photo-documentary of the course we can look back on later on during those dark winter months!

      -Tom Rosenbauer
      Eastern PA RBA


    • This one was pretty hilly, despite not having any official gaps or mountains. It was about 8,500 feet for the full ride, with most of the intense climbing in the first 80 miles or so. Then it was rollers to the finish. It is a ride and challenge well worth it, though.


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